11/08/12 – 13/08/12 – Nazca – Peru
We had a choice – take a 20 hour over night bus from Cuzco to Peru’s capital Lima or take a 14 hour overnight bus to go see these funny lines in the sand at Nazca. 20 hours was too much to contemplate yet again and we couldn’t miss out on checking out the Nazca lines with our own eyes. So we opted for number two, where the 14 hours felt like 20 anyway due to the winding Andean roads coming down from 3500m to 600m in altitude. The bus was comfortable enough but locked in a dark cabin for that amount of time and the winding conditions made us both feel sick.
But we made it through the night and at the crack of dawn landed in the dry desert conditions of the the small town of Nazca. A fairly nothing type of town with one drawcard, strange lines drawn in the sand found by a fluke fly by in 1939 by an American scientist. Spread across 500 square kilometers of arid rock and sand plain, the Nazca lines form more than 800 lines, 300 geometric figures and some 70 animal and plant drawings – some of monkeys, fish, hands and spaceman. We had to go check these out for ourselves.
So we checked in early and scored a free breakfast from a lovely Pervian family in our comfortable hostel but due to the weirdness of our travel and ignorance of the country we had just entered into, hastily accepted a tour to the lines for $90US for 2.5 hrs. We had planed to stay one night in Nazca due to the fact that the lines were all to see and jump on the bus the following morning for the 8hr bus to Lima. So with no time to kill we were on the afternoon expedition being picked up at 3:00pm to be taken to the lines. Being driven no less than 40kms north of the city in a comfortable car with a guide with little to say we arrived at the Mirador – a tower right on the PanAmerican highway that cut straight through the lines. And we did get a very sketchy idea of a hand, a tree and some monkey thing. Off to the next site which apparently dated to 600BC to climb up another tower and view some figures of hunter/gatherer men.
Our guide was very light on the detail albeit his English was very good and we figured there was just not a huge amount to say as he briefly explained some of the history. Maria Reiche a German mathematician spent her life researching the lines and theorised that they were made by the Paracas and Nazca cultures from 900 to 600BC. She believed that the lines were an astronomical calendar mapped out by sophisticated mathematics. Then others after her believe the lines were ritual walkways connected to water or fertility cult, giant running tracks and alien landing sites. We assumed it was either the latter or it was all just ******** – kinda like those crop circle incidents. It was just incredibly hard to believe that these lines had been preserved in the sand without any infrastructure or support by any governing agencies for thousands of years. The lines were between 10 and 30 centimeters in the dry desert that was toped with loose sane and gravel on a clay belt. How on earth had the elements not kicked in over this time and carried these lines away through sun, wind, water or anything else?
Anyway, Murray believed it was Aliens and I opted that it was ******** after the drive back and viewing every man and his dog had also decided to carve their names or figures like tagging graffiti all over the desert landscape – and what do you know – it looked exactly like those weird lines! I know, such an uneducated pessimistic view but maybe the town of Nazca is just looking for a drawcard to keep those select few tourist and tourist dollars coming in. Apparently the Peruvian government has not placed any investment into protecting the lines or building tourist infrastructure and awareness. All that is available is a very expensive taxi service (apologies…tour) out their or a flight over the lines to get a complete view.
Whatever the reality, we had seen these strange lines, paid the price and were more interested in working our way to the beach to drink mojitos then anything else. The long bus rides and tourist sites might have been taking their toll ..